CHICAGO (CBS)–Edward Cruz, the Oak Lawn man charged with hitting and killing a 15-year-old girl with his car, appeared in court Wednesday. Cruz’s bond was set with no bail.
While driving under the influence of alcohol, Cruz fatally hit 15-year-old Amira Nairat, while she was on her way to school Monday.
The 25-year-old’s attorney said he has an “unaddressed substance abuse problem,” but many people are asking why his history of reckless driving didn’t raise more red flags.
Cruz’s driving record reveals a seven-year history of charges for reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without insurance and driving on a suspended or revoked license. Many of those charges were reduced or ultimately dismissed over time.
On the morning of the accident, Cruz was driving with a valid license, however the Secretary of State’s office said his license was pending a suspension that would have gone into effect just six days after he allegedly struck and killed Nairat.
Prosecutors said Cruz drank about 12 beers at a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house the night before the incident.
Cruz left the home, went to a bar in Merrionette Park and within an hour he was arrested and charged with stealing alcohol.
He was released on bond, returned to the home and continued drinking whiskey.
“The defendant told his friend that he was ‘messed up,’” Asst. Cook County State’s Attorney Nicholas Bross said.
According to prosecutors, Cruz then got back behind the wheel of his Volkswagen bug and hit two cars in Chicago Ridge before jumping a curb and striking Nairat, who was walking along Central Avenue on her way to school.
Cruz left the scene but was soon taken into custody.
He was slurring his speech and officers noted vomit on his clothes.
“The defendant later made a statement in custody that he remembered hitting something but did not know that it was a person,” Bross said.
Cruz’s family members hid from the cameras on their way out of court.
Meanwhile, Nairat’s loved ones embraced each other in the parking lot of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview before a prayer service.
Nairat’s high school principal said she was a as a model student and their community is in pain.
“It happened right out here, it happened right on Central, students witnessed it, people knew what happened, there was several layers of trauma,” Principal Mike Jacobson of Harold L. Richards High School said.
His next court date is set for March 5.